What is a WordPress Plugin? Learn how to install the best Plugins.


If you are completely new in WordPress, you might hear the word called WordPress Plugin. And you start wondering “What is a WordPress Plugin?” “How to Install a WordPress Plugin?” “How Plugins works in WordPress?”, etc. This is one of the most common questions to ask. Out of all those new terms in WordPress, Plugin is also one that WordPress introduced to your vocabulary.

In this entry, we will try to explain your question “What is a WordPress Plugin?” How Plugins work in WordPress?. After that, we will show you how to find and install WordPress plugins.

What is a WordPress Plugin?

A WordPress Plugin is generally a piece of code that you ‘plugs-in’ into your self-hosted WordPress website. Every time you install a plugin it extends and expands the features as well as functionalities of your website. This plugin works similarly as your apps do for your smartphones.

WordPress Plugins are generally written in PHP programming language and integrate easily with your WordPress site.

One of the advantages of using WordPress is that the enterprising developers write thousands of lines of codes and creates amazing plugins that we can add to our website.

In the WordPress community, it is said that you have a plugin for almost everything.

These plugins can surely make everything from small tweaks to some biggest changes to your website. For example, It can turn a simple WordPress website into a fully functional eCommerce store, a portal or forum.

Some plugins help you to add a social sharing button, some of them also help you to improve your website speed, etc.

“You have a Plugin for Everything”.

We hope you get your answer “what is a WordPress plugin?” or “what is a plugin in WordPress?”

How to Install a WordPress Plugin?

Note: If you are using WordPress.com, then you can’t add plugins to your website.

After installing WordPress, the first thing every beginner should learn is how to install a Plugin in WordPress.

There are more than 50,000 plugins available on the web for WordPress. Some are free and some of them are paid. Premium plugins are sold by either individual developers or companies like Wpbeginners, Yoast, etc.

In this small guide, we will show you how easily you can install a plugin in WordPress website.

But before installing a Plugin you should consider some important things:

The majority of the plugins are free to install, therefore the chances are there is no or very little tech support available. Take this into consideration first before installing any plugin into your WordPress website.

Installing a plugin also means that adding third-party code to your WordPress website. So you have to be very careful about what plugin to install.

A wrong plugin can:

  • Cause an error to your site
  • Put an effect on your WordPress site security
  • also, slow down your site speed and performance
  • Intentionally introduce malicious code.

To avoid these problems:

  • Try to use plugins of reputable developers or directors (For example WordPress.org)
  • Check for the last time the plugin was updated
  • Check the number of installation as well as the popularity of that plugin
  • Read reviews and check the ratings

Though it’s not a foolproof approach, it will still help you find the best plugins for your site.

Now coming back to our topic.

How to Install WordPress plugins?

what is a wordpress plugin
(src: wpbeginners)

Install a plugin in WordPress is very easy. In this quick guide, we will discuss all the possible ways on how to install a plugin for a WordPress website. So you can easily install plugins to your site.

Basically, there are three ways that you can install a WordPress plugin.

  1. Install a plugin using WordPress Plugin Search
  2. Uploading a WordPress plugin
  3. Manually installing a WordPress plugin using FTP.

In this guide, we will discuss the first two methods, because the third one is the least beginner-friendly.

Install a Plugin using WordPress Plugin Search

This is surely the easiest way to install plugins on WordPress websites. Search for a plugin and install it directly from there.

To install a plugin via WordPress plugin search:

Go to your WordPress admin area >>> Plugins >>> Add New.

search for your wordpress plugin

After that, you will see a screen like this (above screenshot). Use the search box, find the plugin just by typing the plugin name or function. Then, you will see a bunch of plugins like the example below:

plugin list

From this listing, you can pick the plugin that is best for you. In our case, we are searching for WPForms, as it is one of the best WordPress contact form plugins.

Now just click the “Install Now” button next to it.

WordPress will now download and install the plugin. After the installation is done you will see a button “Activate”, click that button to activate the plugin, otherwise, it will not start working.

plugin active button

After the plugin is activated it will start working seamlessly on your WordPress website.

That’s all for successfully install a WordPress plugin via the WordPress Plugin search.

Install a Plugin using the WordPress Admin Plugin Upload

In this second step, we will learn how to install a WordPress Plugin using the WordPress Admin Plugin Upload.

WordPress Premium plugins do not list in the WordPress Plugin directories. Therefore, these plugins can’t get installed using the first method.

That’s why WordPress comes up with this method to install such plugins.

To upload a plugin first, you need to download it from the source which will be in a zip file.

To upload it go to your WordPress admin area and visit Plugin >> Add New.

After that, click the “Upload Plugin” button at the top.

plugin upload button

It will take you to the plugin upload form. Then you need to click the ‘Choose File’ button and select the plugin file to upload.

select the plugin zip file

WordPress will automatically upload and install the file for you. After the installation is finished you will see a success message.

plugin installing

Once the installation is done, click the ‘Active Plugin’ button to activate it.

You are pretty much done now.

Just configure some settings as per your requirement then you are ready to go.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about installing WordPress plugins.

1. How do I find the best WordPress plugins to install on my website?

There are more than 50,000 free WordPress plugins available in the WordPress plugin directory alone. And also a lot of premium plugins are available too. To find the best plugin out of all this is tough.

So, in this case, you should ask yourself a few questions:

1)      How long has it been since it was last updated?

2)      Is it compatible with the latest version of WordPress?

3)      Are people getting answers to their support questions?

4)      What kind of ratings does it have?

Find out the answers to these questions, it will surely help you find out the best plugins.

Below we also mention some essential plugins that you can use for your website.

2.  What is the difference between installed and active Plugins?

To use a plugin in your site you need to Activate it first after installing it. Only installing a plugin doesn’t start working.

You can see whether a plugin is active or not just by visiting the ‘Plugin’ page in your WordPress admin area.  All the active plugins will be highlighted with a blue background.  And the plugins which are installed but not active are in white background.

active and inactive plugins

3.  Should I delete inactive plugins?

If you are not using a plugin, we will recommend you to delete the plugin from your website.

4. How many plugins I can install in WordPress?

You can add as many plugins as you need for your website. It is not the number of plugins that affect the performance of your site, but the quality of those plugins.

5. How do I uninstall a WordPress plugin?

In order to uninstall a WordPress plugin visit the plugin page from your admin area. Then click deactivate to deactivate the plugin. After that, click delete to remove it from your website.

Uninstall a plugin

6.  How to update a Plugin?

In order to update a plugin, just go to the plugin page from your admin area, and if there is any update available just click update now and WordPress will automatically update the plugin.

update a plugin

Check your Plugin page regularly for new updates.

Note: There is a myth that WordPress plugins slow down your site. But it is not true. Only the number of bad ones slow down your site.

We hope this small guide helps you to understand How to install a WordPress plugin.

How did Plugins work in WordPress?

WordPress Plugins are a piece of code that we plugs-in into our website. It integrates and runs on top of the WordPress software.

WordPress is created in such a way that another developer can customize it as per requirements. The WordPress plugin API offers a robust set of hooks and filters which allow developers to either modify existing WordPress functionality or add new.

Plugins can certainly make everything from small tweaks to some biggest changes to your website. You can use different types of plugins for your different needs. In fact, plugins allow us to create any kind of website with WordPress (not just a blog).

For example, you can:

  • Start an e-commerce store with WordPress by using WooCommerce Plugin
  • Create a job board/portal with WordPress by using the Job Manager Plugin
  • Build a business directory with the best directory plugin for WordPress
  • Create your Photography website by using the Envira Gallery Plugin
  • Build your own podcast website using WordPress.
  • And do many more things.

In the WordPress community, it is said that you have a plugin for almost everything.

It doesn’t matter what you are trying to do on your WordPress website, if that feature is not available by default in WordPress, then there is certainly a plugin for that.

WordPress Have plugins for:

  •  Improve SEO
  • Boost website performance
  • Add contact form
  • Boost website performance
  • Add contact form
  • Add Social Sharing buttons
  • Create Galleries
  • Image optimizer and many more.

Apart from those large changes (for example – Create a WordPress eCommerce site or WordPress Membership site), Sometimes a plugin can offer just one tiny little feature like adding an image to the sidebar, add author picture in the blog, etc.

We hope this article helps you understand what are WordPress plugins and how do they work.

Some of the must-have plugins for your WordPress Website

From that sea of plugins that available on the web both free and paid, it is tough to find the best plugins for your website.

There is plenty of plugins available for niche solutions, but very few of them are must-have plugins for all websites. Irrespective of your niche these are few of the plugins that you can still use for your WordPress website.

1.      For SEO –  Yoast SEO, All-in-one- SEO, Rank Math

2.      Contact Form – Contact Form 7, WPForms

3.      Analytics- MonsterInsights, Google Site Kit

4.      For Spam – Akismet Anti-Spam

5.      Sitemap- Google XML Sitemaps

6.      Caching Plugin- WP Rocket, Wp Super Cache

7.      Designing-   Beaver Builder, Elementor

8.      Live Chat-  LiveChat, talkTo

9.      Social Sharing- Shared Counts

10.    Image Optimization- Smush Image Compression and Optimization

11.    For backup- UpdraftPlus WordPress backup Plugin

12.    For Ecommerce- WooCommerce Plugin

Note: To Know what plugins a website is using, you can use a chrome extension called Scan WP.


Plugins are very important for WordPress websites. It helps you to extend the features of your site. With the help of plugins, you can do whatever you need to do with your website. Installing a WordPress plugin is also very easy, but before that take all the precautions that we already mention in the article to maintain your site performance.

We hope this article helps you to clear some of your doubts regarding WordPress plugins.

Also read

  1. How to create a wordpress website from scratch.

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